Yes, we’re going to attempt the crazy train of cloth diapering.
Thanks to Liisa, we have lots of cute Bum Genius All-In-Ones. This is the batch of newborn sized ones that will need to be ready sooner rather than later. You have to admit they’re pretty darn cute. Especially all hanging on the (temporary) clothes line.
Over the weekend, my oldest nephew popped over and helped me with some heavy lifting and gardening labor. He cleaned out the bed that will one day house cucumbers and other plants. He also set up my new strawberry bed.
This simple bed (inspired by this post found via Pinterest) is made from the leftover cinder blocks after my large L-shaped bed was demolished. Unfortunately, I can’t count, so I only purchased 6 strawberry plants. The two plants in the front lower compartments are leftover spinach from the planting that went into the bed by the shed. When it gets too hot for spinach, those two pods will house flowers or other warm-weather crops. The bed is nestled neatly in some dead space between the back porch and the AC unit.
This bed now houses onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, and sugar snap peas. I’m hoping they will all play nicely together. Very soon, I will be adding a trellis at the back of this bed for the peas to climb. I’m thinking some modified hog panel will do the trick (an idea suggested by my Dad). The lettuce, spinach, and peas were planted with the help of my five year old nephew. He also weeded and planted carrots in the dirt where the L-shaped bed used to be.
The blocks were removed, but the dirt remained, so we simply put some rocks around the front and decided to give it a shot. We planted Nelson carrots on the left side of this bed. We ran out about halfway towards the right. A trip to the Grange procured some Sugar Snax (chosen by T), but those will have to wait to go in until these ones sprout since I have no idea how far over we planted…
Today is a continuation of the worm bin saga. I originally posted about building a bin from recycled materials. It took me a few days to source some local Red Wigglers, but I did it! (I know, I know… I can lay some newspaper on the ground and wet it down and get worms, but I wanted this specific type.) I found my worms at the local Extension Service for $20/lb. Since my bin is so small, I requested a half pound ($10). The money goes towards the local agricultural programs there at the Extension Service, so it’s a win/win for everyone. During the few days it took to get my worms, I started filling my bin with yummy compost.
Delicious, eh? Our bin is mostly egg shells and coffee grounds with some sad carrots, a squishy lemon, and liquifying lettuce thrown in for good measure. It is lined with newspaper and also has a couple cups of dirt to get them going. The bin is about half full at this time.
My worms came home in style in a recycled English Muffin bag, packed safely in their castings. They also came with a short instruction sheet for maintaining the vermicomposting bin, including some trouble-shooting.
I gently poured the worms, castings and all, into their new home and then covered them with damp newspaper.
Then, I placed the bin on four small pots on its tray in the shed.
The bin will live here until temperatures get too hot, and then it will be moved somewhere cooler. I’ll try to rotate the bin every week or so, ensuring that the compost isn’t always placed in one spot.
All in all, this setup cost me $10.78. The extra $0.78 is for two more of those little pots so I could set it up with 4 for a more stable stand. The pots ensure air flow and drainage so my wormies don’t drown. The tray will catch any delicious worm juice that can then be poured onto the garden. If this setup works well, I’ll either a) make a second bin or b) make a larger bin. I’ll keep you posted!
I know I’m a few weeks behind starting my tomato seeds (sorry, Liisa!), but I finally got around to doing so today. The problem I was running into was the lack of a starter tray. My tray met with an untimely demise last year and I never replaced it. As I ranted in my last post, I didn’t really like it anyway. So instead, I got a little creative. Let me introduce you to my $1 seed setup.
The seed trays are recycled egg cartons, tops removed, on a $1 lipped cookie sheet from the Dollar Store. The tags are from a box in the recycling bin that I cut up and made into spikes, labeled with Sharpie. I used a chopstick to make the seed holes and the soil bin is a dish washing bin I already had. Not too bad, eh? I had some old pony packs running around in the shed, but this seemed like a more compact solution. They have been settled into a cat-free room under a slightly transparent dishpan I found in the shed. I’m letting the egg cartons soak up the water from the bottom so as not to drown the new seeds.
What is in the trays, you ask? Well, thanks to my labels, I can tell you (and I’ll be able to remember in a week). All of my seeds are from Territorial. I like buying from a local-ish company because they tend to carry seeds that grow really well in this area.
The back tray is all tomatoes, all the time. Three different kinds, four pods of each. From left to right are Brandywine, Gold Nugget, and Nova. In the front tray are four pods of Parel Cabbage (I found the seeds in the shed and figured, why not?) and 8 pods of Marigolds (Brocade Mix). I love Marigolds and they’re always so expensive to buy as plants. I figured I’d give starting the flowers from seed a shot.
My total seed cost so far this year is around the $12 mark. I have 4 pony packs of starts sitting outside that cost me around $10. The cabbage and Nova tomatoes were leftover from last year. I also have cucumber, carrot, and bean seeds from last year that will be planted at some point. Since I tend to be an extremely negligent gardener, I’m trying not to invest a ton into this year’s garden.
What are you planting?
Continuing the spring gardening saga around here… Hubby helped me put together a worm bin!
Made entirely of materials we had on hand, this zero cost composter is my first go at vermicomposting. I followed the instructions here, subbing in a different size box and a recycled boot tray. The tray had a bit of a crack, so I used some good old duct tape to fix it up.
Hubby drilled the holes so it has plenty of air circulation. It will be set up on something (like recycled pots) so that there is plenty of airflow and the worm juices can drip out. Now I just need some newspaper and worms and we’re good to go!
I shouldn’t be allowed to go to the Grange Co-Op by myself…
That box contains new gardening clogs (SQUEE!), mixed lettuce, spinach, and sugar snap peas. And, true to form, as I walked out of the Grange, it began to sprinkle. I think I’ll make cookies and wait for the sun to show up.
Of Spring, that is! Yes, I know it is still dreary and dismal January. But I was able to confirm that my garlic has indeed sprouted.
I planted it last October or November (I don’t really remember exactly) and most of the little bulbs now have beautiful green shoots. Even the one I planted upside down managed to find it’s way to the sun (I righted it today so it has a fighting chance). Combine that with the beautiful blue sky that is out today, and things are looking up.
(Watch, there will be a huge storm this week just to remind me that it’s still winter…)
Being inspired yesterday with the gardening thoughts, I decided to take advantage of that state of mind and develop a plan of attack. My gardens are generally late or don’t happen because I forget what I was going to plant/when to plant it/etc. This year, I want to at least grow my favorites, so in the spirit of success, I’m forming a battle plan. First, a list of the items I want to grow, when they should be planted, light requirements, and anything else I should know. Armed with my local Garden Guide and a copy of Grow Great Grub, I set to work on a spreadsheet.
(Yes, I’m a big nerd. But at least I’m trying to be an organized one!)
Ready for this?
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Sure, it doesn’t look like much, but it tells me a lot. First of all, the planting will all be done before the baby arrives (yay!) and secondly, I learned a few things from Grow Great Grub that I didn’t know. For example, carrots like to be planted with tomatoes, onions, peas, and lettuce, but not dill or parsnips. That means I can sow carrots in nearly every planter and raised bed I have. Pretty awesome, eh?
The next step is to figure out where everything goes. Armed with the extra knowledge of what plants don’t like to play together, I can start planning it out. Both of my raised beds are partial shade due to the buildings they are up against. The shed bed gets morning sun/afternoon shade and the house bed gets morning/afternoon sun with evening shade. The potato planters are getting shifted and placed closer to the other beds in a place they will get morning sun. The tomatoes will be trying this year out in the house bed with green beans and edamame behind, lettuce and carrots in front. The shed bed will continue to have garlic and onions with snap peas behind, lettuce and carrots in front. Cucumber and zucchinis will be placed in pots and trellised upwards. (I have 4 large ones from Costco that will do nicely) Those pots will be spread about in places that get the appropriate lighting and where I don’t have to mow around them. The herbs will be put in pots small enough that I can bring indoors when it gets too warm.
(click to embiggen)
That’s the plan for now. I’d love feedback or advice from more seasoned gardeners. It’s a fairly small garden, but I want it to be manageable and filled with the foods we like to eat. After all, what’s the point of a garden if you don’t eat what comes out of it?
Today was a dreary day, but we spent most of it inside, enjoying a nice Saturday together. Now that the sun has set and I’m left to my own brain, I find myself feeling restless. I’m ready to be outside. To be going and doing and seeing. I’ve already planned a road trip in my mind. But this post isn’t about road trips. It’s about looking forward to spring.
It’s about gardening.
Seeing as we are now one week into the new year, I thought it prudent to pull out my trusty (but not nearly used enough) garden guide.
This month it says to plan the garden. Well, alrighty then.
I’ve already got garlic and onions planted and possibly sprouting. (Is it too early? Are those weeds?) But now I need to plan the rest of our food for the year. As always there will be tomatoes and cucumbers. I’m also planning to try for potatoes again. Shelling peas are generally successful, but snap peas and green beans are yummier. Lettuce always does well, but I forget to harvest it. (I have been eating a lot more salad lately, so I think I’ll plant it anyway.) Carrots are definitely in and I think I’ll try for some zucchini as well. Basil will happen indoors as well as maybe some dill and cilantro.
I think that will be the extent of my small garden. I lost two beds last year and gained one, so my garden size is a bit diminished. I think if I go any crazier, we’ll have to plant the garden in the lawn.
Things I wont be growing this year:
- Corn – It requires too much room and I can get it from a local farm on the cheap.
- Melons – When they’re in season are buy one, get one at the local farm stand.
- Strawberries – The stand down the road picks them out back and sells them up front.
- Peppers – I give up. I’ll buy them from the farmers market.
What do you think? Too ambitious?
(Now what did I do with my seeds from last year…?)
Or how to keep your sink empty with the least amount of effort.
Here is my secret to having an (usually) empty sink. Wrangle the dishes while waiting for food to do things. Really. It’s that simple.
Here is a typical day of dish wrangling:
Breakfast - Unload the dishes while the bacon is cooking. Then, load in dishes as they dirty.
(For example: As I finish with each pan, I rinse it and load it in. Then, when I’m done cooking, the sink is empty and the dishes are already loaded. After eating, I can put the dishes directly into the washer. My sink remains empty.)
Lunch - Load in dishes as they dirty. If you don’t eat lunch at home, then you get to skip this one. If you took your lunch to work/school/etc., make sure to load the containers in when you get home.
Dinner - Load in dishes as they dirty. After dinner, add the plates/forks/cups, etc. Is the dishwasher full? Great, run it. If not, don’t. (It’s usually full by this point. Especially if I used a large pan for dinner.)
Voila! That’s it. My sink is nearly always empty and my dishes are generally clean when I need them. This system allows us to own less pots and pans among other kitcheny bits. Give it a shot. It takes a few days to get the routine down, but it works. If nothing else in my house is clean, at least the sink is empty.